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Food Boxes Take Us on a Journey from Farm to Plate

By April 27, 2022 No Comments

A delicious plate of food isn’t just a meal, it’s a story. That’s because food doesn’t just magically appear in the store or in your home. There are countless people who work from dawn to dusk – a true labor of love – to build a thriving local food system.

Farmers and fishers tend land and sea, and their products and produce head to stores, where grocery workers stock shelves and help you pick out the freshest veggies. Sometimes farmers themselves bring the bounty to you via farmers markets and farm stands.

And then there are incredible businesses across Washington with  food box services that transport beautiful produce to your front door or neighborhood. Read on to learn about three of our favorites from Eastern, Western, and Northwest Washington: LINC Foods, Pacific Coast Harvest, and Dandelion Organic Delivery, respectively.

Eastern WA / Cascade Region

In Eastern Washington, LINC Foods serves as a bridge between farmers and consumers in and around Spokane. LINC is a farmers cooperative, meaning that they are owned by farmers and workers of the coop. They also work with small producers that use local ingredients to create value-added goods. LINC has three programs that get the good food of the Inland Northwest out to consumers. 

As Michelle Youngbloom, LINC’s Crop Promotion Director, explains, “We have the LINC Box program, which is a farm-to-table subscription. Then there’s LINC Market, which is like an online farmers market. And we also have LINC Malt, where we take grains from local farmers, malt them in our facilities, then partner with lots of small breweries around the state and in the Pacific Northwest.” LINC works particularly close with Full Bushel Farm out of Medical Lake, Happy Mountain Mushrooms in Spokane, Peak of Abundance Farm in Spokane Valley, and Elithorp Farm in Deer Park.

Photo courtesy of LINC Foods

Photo courtesy of LINC Foods

Michelle recognizes the unique role that food boxes play in getting local food to more people, while also supporting farmers. “Food boxes allow us to take products from many different farms and put them together. We can choose the most seasonal, delicious items from around the region, giving people a way to eat sustainably and seasonally without having to have an expansive knowledge base themselves. Not every person knows what’s in season or what farms use sustainable practices. It’s an easy way for people to trust the source of the food.” 

LINC keeps consumers connected to that source – the farming community of Washington. For example, through their newsletters LINC can let customers know that a cold snap has impacted asparagus’ availability or provide background information on farms. Not only that, LINC Boxes make local food convenient and accessible. “It’s a quick way to pick up groceries,” Michelle says. “We do home deliveries and neighborhood pick-ups. Knowing that your staple food items are prepared for you, you don’t have to take the time to go to the grocery store. That can be impactful.” 

Lauren Clarkson, who does Customer Service at LINC, also knows just how far that impact can reach. “We see how important it is for little things to come together,” she says. “With us being a connecting link between different regions and farms, it becomes evident how much we need so many modes of connection. It’s not one big supply chain, which can get a little dicey. Coming together and supporting small local farms, being able to get it straight to an average table in Spokane… it’s really amazing! We get a unique perspective on how powerful community can be.” 

Michelle agrees, adding, “We balance and enjoy a lot of different communities within the bigger picture. We have this community of farmers that we really believe is stronger together. Cooperation is power. When farmers work together, they have the opportunity to reach larger markets. If one farm doesn’t have the supply of a certain item, another farm can balance that out. And then there’s our community of customers. Every person that’s part of LINC Box makes such a big difference. It may seem like a small purchasing choice, but all the individuals really add up and make a huge impact together.”

Photo courtesy of LINC Foods

Puget Sound Region

Pacific Coast Harvest is another Washington business that shares the joy of seasonal produce. They also are able to adapt their offerings to their customers’ busy lives through a unique farm to table model. Pacific Coast Harvest seeks to be a bridge between local farms and customers, working with more than 150 small Washington farms to bring seasonal produce to the Puget Sound area. 

Through their partnerships with the City of Seattle and WSDA, they also bring low- or no-cost food bags to historically underserved communities and schools in the region. Pacific Coast Harvest also supports chefs and other businesses supporting local farmers through their wholesale brand Farmstand Local Foods.

Trent of Pacific Coast Harvest delivers to Lifelong Chicken Soup Brigade

Rhubarb from Sidhu Farms in Puyallup, WA

The team at Pacific Coast Harvest provides a wide variety of products with an awareness of people’s time by ensuring that everything is fully customizable, as well as full transparency. Customers can see the farm name as well as how many miles the food travels to get to Pacific Coast Harvest’s Seattle warehouse.

That care and consideration extends into Pacific Coast Harvest’s food boxes, which bring the best of the Northwest to local food lovers. 

“We have two options,” Chris Teeny, Pacific Coast Harvest’s co-owner, explains. “There’s the Locavore Box, which only contains produce and products from the northwest. There are things from Central Oregon in the winter, which is about as far south as we’ll go. In the summer, we naturally prioritize local farmers who we have connections with.” Some of those strong local farm relationships are with Caruso Farm, Jacobs Agro, and Hazel Blue Acres.

Flexibility makes Pacific Coast Harvest special. They understand that people are busy, that eating local can be expensive, and that sometimes you want an avocado (let’s be real, it’s hard to find a PNW avocado). Their boxes are customizable, so you can pick and choose what you want, as well as cancel. This adaptability is even more apparent in the Pacific Coast Boxes, which balance local and variety. That means that yes, there will be all the seasonal produce you know and love, but there can also be berries in the off season. “We want people to be able to build habits over time that integrate more local food into their lives,” Chris says. 

Agustin of Four Elements Farm in Puyallup, WA

Pacific Coast Harvest is passionate about building a more integrated local food system, and community is at the heart of the work they do. “We think of community as creating space for partnership, not just a transaction,” Chris explains. “We meet people where they’re at with the time and capacity they have to engage. We create a space where everyone is welcome, where we can use our expertise to incorporate more food access. Creating that connection is the right thing to do, and it’s so worth it.” 

Northwest WA Region

Dandelion Organic Delivery vans have been welcome sights in Bellingham and Whatcom County for fifteen years. Maria Stavrakas, founder and co-owner of Dandelion alongside Jonny Lane, started the business out of a deep passion for food and community. 

“It comes from a love of food and good eating,” she explains. “I wanted a business that I could feel was doing good things for the environment and for our community, supporting people with their healthy eating and living.” 

And Dandelion shares that love with generosity, as they deliver gorgeous and seasonal produce to their many eager customers. Their no-contact service is simple and safe, and drivers have been able to connect and build relationships with many customers over the years. Dandelion also recognizes the unpredictable nature of seasonal produce. “We love making sure that everyone is receiving their full value and quality and will always replace anything that is not perfect.,” Maria explains. 

Photo courtesy of Dandelion Organic Delivery

Photo courtesy of Dandelion Organic Delivery

Dandelion grows relationships with local farmers, as well. “We work with so many farms,” Maria says. “We work with a lot on an occasional basis, and then we have our regulars: Rabbit Fields Farm, Spring Frog Farm, Terra Verde Farm, Spring Creek Farm, Ralph’s Greenhouse, Frog’s Song Farm, Brownfield Orchard, FarmWild, Spotted Owl Farm, Hopewell Farm…”

The list goes on and on, a demonstration of the mutually-beneficial connections that Dandelion Organic Delivery supports and nurtures. “I love what we do!” Maria exclaims. “We have such a positive, fun work environment. We work with beautiful produce and wonderful farmers. Not everyone has an opportunity to connect with farmers and their food, and we get the honor and opportunity of delivering it to people’s homes.” 

And eating seasonally is a guaranteed way to practice sustainability, too. One springtime vegetable that Maria is particularly excited about? “Purple sprouting broccoli,” she says. “We put it in a frittata with potatoes, pecorino romano, and eggs from FarmWild. The kids love it!” 

Dandelion Organic Delivery always appreciates more people using their service, which means they’re able to keep their prices low and affordable, getting more food to more people. So whether you’re looking for a seasonally-inspired frittata, more delicious produce in your life, or a more direct connection with local farms, Dandelion Organic Delivery can make the journey from food to plate delicious and accessible. Learn more and sign up here

Behind every meal are these connections between farmers and customers, bridged by businesses like LINC Foods, Pacific Coast Harvest, and Dandelion Organic Delivery. Food boxes are a way to support your community, eat delicious food, get to know the folks who grew it, and be a part of the story of Washington-grown (and Washington-loved) food. You can find more local food delivery businesses on the WA Food & Farm Finder.

Photo courtesy of Dandelion Organic Delivery